A Senate panel on Thursday unanimously recommended the nomination of Michael Walter Fitzgerald to the federal bench, gay weekly The Washington Blade reported.

President Barack Obama nominated Fitzgerald to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in July – Obama's fourth openly gay judicial nominee to date.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, cheered the move.

“Moving Michael Fitzgerald's nomination to the Senate floor is a positive step toward confirming a dedicated legal talent,” said HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz. “We urge the full Senate to confirm him and help make the bench more representative of the diversity of the American public.”

According to the Blade, the Senate, which is facing a backlog of judicial nominees, is unlikely to take up the Fitzgerald nomination any time soon.

California Senator Barbara Boxer, who recommended Fitzgerald to the president, praised the development.

“I am so pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Michael Fitzgerald's nomination to serve on the federal bench,” she said. “It is now critical that the Senate move swiftly to confirm him so he can begin serving the people of the Central District.”